Many dental professionals suggest that children begin seeing a dentist as soon as their first teeth present. A child's teeth are subject to decay just as adult teeth are. Thus, the teeth are vulnerable, regardless of the age of the patient. Still, various habits can increase the likelihood of cavity development.
Here are some of the reasons why a cavity may develop at different phases in a patient's life.
Babies sometimes suffer from a type of decay called baby bottle decay. The condition is caused by the regular bathing of the teeth in sugary liquids. The contents of a bottle seep into a baby's mouth slowly. As a result, milk, juice, or other liquids that a bottle may contain may rest in mouth for a prolonged period. Even healthy fluids that are often consumed by babies, such as milk and juice, can cause cavities. Milk contains a natural sugar called lactose, and fruit juice contains fructose.
As a baby drinks from a bottle during periods of rest, the muscles that control the swallowing reflex relax. As a result, the liquid from the bottle pools in the mouth, promoting tooth decay. To avoid baby bottle decay, a child should be weaned from the bottle as soon as possible. Until the weaning is complete, only water should be allowed in the bottle during naps or bedtime.
As a child grows beyond toddlerhood, they may consume a larger amount of candy. Candy may be provided by teachers and others as rewards or treats. Sugar is frequently the primary ingredient in candy. It is also the main food source of oral bacteria. The microbes feed on simple carbohydrates, digest the food, and release acidic waste into the mouth. The acids eat away at the tooth enamel and cause cavities.
To help lessen the chance of decay, sweets should be avoided as much as possible. Children can be offered sugar-free candy or rewarded with toys and other non-food items.
Teens may consume large amounts of soda. Even if a soda contains no sugar, the drink is still quite acidic. The acids in the beverages dissolve the minerals of the tooth enamel, just as bacterial acids do. Sodas should be replaced by less acidic beverages, such as tea or water. Water is especially helpful since most tap water is fluoridated. Fluoride can help remineralize the teeth.
If you would like to have your teeth assessed, schedule an appointment with a family dentist in your local area.